In 2016 it seems the more we communicate the less we are understood, especially when it comes to interoffice communication. Our digital devices are all encompassing. They have enabled us to work anywhere, at any time, and the assumption would be that these devices have improved office communication for the better. But have they, really?
- 85% of employees use more than one digital device as a communications tool at the office.
- 32% utilize three or more devices.
- 95% say they plan on increasing use of these communication tools – while avoiding face-to-face meetings.
It seems the digital landscape has changed traditional office communications. Millennials, the first generation to have grown up with digital technology, regularly question the need for in-person meetings. Why suffer a long commute when you can Skype, WebEx or GoToMeeting?
Personal Communication Seems Impersonal
Today it’s possible to run a business with employees that are never physically present (See tips for managing remote employees here). In some ways that’s amazing – but it also could be odd and possibly a little sad. If you’re communicating solely through a text or email you miss the nuance of facial and body language. Tone is lost. A video conference is wonderful and can save your company travel expenses. But does it eliminate the sense of team camaraderie that can come from being in an office setting?
Conversely, does eliminating the “water cooler discussion” also lessen petty gossip that can cause friction at the office? The answer is clearly not, because people use social media to continue these bad behaviors on a daily basis.
How to Improve Office Communication with the Telecommuter
But what if you’re trying to improve office communications with an employee who rarely comes into the office?
The biggest challenge when communicating with a remote employee is the increased use of email to tackle difficult topics that might better be dealt with by phone or in person. Email is an impersonal medium, and the use of a smiley face emoticon does not replace tone of voice. Two sentences in an email that may sound well intentioned when you read them aloud can be taken completely differently if tone is read into the emails that were never intended. This makes video and phone communication with the remote employee extremely important.
How many times today did a digital device interrupt your office conversations? Is it culturally acceptable to have laptops and texting in use during office meetings? Perhaps the biggest impediments to inter-office communication are actually the digital communication tools we’re using. Would office communications improve dramatically if your team put down their digital devices and fully participated in one thing at a time?
Communication is a tricky thing. Need someone to help? Looking for that old school notebook only employee? Artisan Talent provides offices with professional communications experts that can help your business improve. Contact us today to find out how we can help you find your unique voice and share it with employees – and your customers.